Dual nationality case: Farahnaz Ispahani’s National Assembly membership suspended

Published: May 26, 2012

Rehman Malik given until May 30 to prove he renounced British citizenship. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday dealt a blow to President Asif Ali Zardari by suspending his media adviser Farahnaz Ispahani’s membership of the National Assembly (NA) for holding a US citizenship, and warned Interior Minister Rehman Malik over the matter too.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi, who alleged that Rehman Malik held British nationality, while Ispahani possessed US nationality.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued the direction while hearing the dual nationality case. However, Ispahani and her lawyer Wasim Sajjad were absent at the hearing. The court observed that Ispahani, wife of Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, could not be a part of the NA proceedings, including the upcoming budget session, citing concern over the contents of the US citizenship document. The SC noted that according to the document, a person has to renounce the citizenship of the country they were born in when they attain US nationality.

Moreover, the bench observed that being a foreign national, Ispahani could not be a Member of the National Assembly (MNA). “If we allow this lady MNA to sit in our assembly, she can also become the foreign minister or prime minister of Pakistan,” Justice Chaudhry remarked.

The court questioned why Ispahani had concealed her US nationality from the Election Commission of Pakistan, before filing her candidature for the NA. It went on to add that as such, she could be a US spy and “might have collected secret information regarding sensitive matters, particularly on defence and foreign matters. After seeing this oath of allegiance to the US, one cannot say that such a person can be loyal to any other country.”

Rehman Malik notified

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s lawyer failed to produce any evidence of Malik renouncing his British citizenship. Malik had submitted an affidavit before the court that he renounced his citizenship in 2008, but has failed to produce the required evidence thus far.

Malik’s lawyer, Chaudhry Azhar, tried to shift the court’s attention towards technical issues of the documentation. The bench did not accept this and reaffirmed that all he had to do was show the receipt of the payment made to forgo the citizenship. “We simply asked you to show us that receipt,” Chaudhry said.

Giving an extension to the interior minister as per his request to provide the receipt, the court warned that if he failed to provide it, his membership as MNA will also be suspended on May 30.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.

Reader Comments (21)

  • Abdul
    May 26, 2012 - 9:45AM

    I always thought I’m a dual national Pakistani but thanks to Chief justice now I know I’m a foreigner. My remittances to Pakistan were known as ” remittances by overseas Pakistanis ” not it will be called as ” remittances by foreigners”

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  • Babu
    May 26, 2012 - 11:09AM

    VERY GOOD DECISION !!!

    Nobody with Dual nationality / loyalty, with their money in foreign bank accounts should be in any senior position in Pakistan. ONLY TRUE Pakistanis, whose life depends on Pakistan should run Pakistan.

    Nobody will elect you in America if you hold non-American citizenship. Just look at people accusing Obama of being a Kenyan citizen.Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 26, 2012 - 11:11AM

    When it comes to money, the biggest foreign exchange earnings of Pakistan are the monies sent by the foreigners from the West. In M. East there is no question of nationality but in the West many obtain dual nationality so they can get govt and sensitive jobs. We are Pakistani to provide all the money and even can vote. Our achievements are published as Pakistan’s glorification. Yet we cannot contest elections while keeping dual citizenship. The more clever politicians like Nisar do not get other nationality but have their family members do it. In case they need to get out, their family can bring them to the foreign country. A simple principle, anybody who can vote and satisfies age and basic qualifications can contest elections in every other country. Why is CJ waking up in the fourth year of the NA? All nomination papers were examined by the judges who headed Election Commission in Mush’s rule. Why those judges are are not being brought to justice for not doing their job? Sorry, I forgot judges and generals are exempt from obeying the laws.

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  • Aristo
    May 26, 2012 - 11:57AM

    There is a serious conflict of interest involved here, in this particular case the CJ is absolutely right.

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  • Junaid Ali
    May 26, 2012 - 12:01PM

    @abdul
    You must agree and see the reason behind this, if a National Assembly member is a citizen of another country then he will have his thoughts and preferences elsewhere, but the place he’s working now

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  • Humayun
    May 26, 2012 - 12:12PM

    Instead of shifting the burden to the Court, a serious debate in parliament and an appropriate legislation with due considerations to the sensitivities of ‘Expat Community of Pakistanis” be done, I believe.

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  • M. A. Changezi
    May 26, 2012 - 1:34PM

    Good decision. More power to you CJ if that’s what make things right during this dismal hour in the history of Pakistan. Either you are Pakistani or you are not. Keep at it sir.

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  • ashar
    May 26, 2012 - 3:00PM

    @Abdul:
    You remit to Pakistan to your family not to the country. How many foriegners like you continue to remit to Pakistan when the entire family gets foreign nationality.

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  • ansk
    May 26, 2012 - 3:20PM

    if these overseas pakistani’s have so much love for pakistan, then they should move to pakistan rather then sit abroad

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  • lastlines
    May 26, 2012 - 4:08PM

    I agree with the ruling of the SC in this..a person who holds a political office with dual citizenship..there is a conflict of interest..where do that persons loyalties lie when it comes to making decisions..a person who accepts citizenship is required to defend and uphold the law of that country..For a normal Pakistani citizen to have dual citizenship does not create a conflict of interest because he has no influence which would affect the lives of other Pakistanis except those of his family..

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  • khan
    May 26, 2012 - 5:35PM

    @Abdul:
    there are overseas Pakistanis who are Pakistani nationals, who work in foriegn countries as foriegners..where as dual nationals have taken oath of complete loyalty to their new country, how do you expect such person to represent the Pakistani people, who for instance is a citizen of another country, recently an Amercian senator had to cancel her new french nationality to avoid being stripped off her senate seat..

    Enough of imported ministers and leaders!!

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  • khan
    May 26, 2012 - 5:42PM

    @Mirza:

    Don’t become so emotional, no one is stripping dual nationals out of their Pakistani nationality!! but if you want to contest elections in pakistan cancel your Western nationality!! and foriegn remittances sent by Pakistanis from all the western countries is peanuts compared to overseas Pakistanis living in the Middle-east.

    Actually you people are in identity crises as you give priority to being a third-class citizen of a foriegn country and not remain a Pakistani and travel on Pakistani passports.. you people have a choice of not taking foriegn citizenships.. Pakistan should make it mandatory for all Pakistanis to hold single nationality, either be a Pakistani or a foriegner in Pakistan

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  • Lala Gee
    May 26, 2012 - 5:53PM

    @Abdul:

    “always thought I’m a dual national Pakistani but thanks to Chief justice now I know I’m a foreigner. My remittances to Pakistan were known as ” remittances by overseas Pakistanis ” not it will be called as ” remittances by foreigners””

    If you are so loyal to your country, you should have thought before you took the Oath of Allegiance and abhorred your loyalties with the sate of Pakistan and renounced you Pakistani citizenship. Anyway, I really do not mean this, and do not have any doubt about the goodwill of expatriate Pakistanis towards the state of Pakistan. However, it is legally a mater of conflict of interests when you are part of a government and are supposed to watch the interests and keep the secrets of the state which could be against the interests of the other country which you are also a citizen of and took the oath to protect them as well. Ordinary Pakistanis have no consequences of dual nationality except for those countries which do not allow dual nationality like USA.

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  • Fareeha
    May 26, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Courts are busy in witch-hunting of PPP members. There hundreds of thousands Pakistanis that retain dual nationality and they are the one who are major sources of foreign exchange. They must be happy with this biased decision of court. Courts are bound to interpret constitution and they are very much bounded to the same constitution. I have a question do constitution envisage arbitrary disqualification of millions of Pakistanis that hold dual-nationality? I am sure not. Courts are running their own parallel government that is not bound to any law or constitution. We strongly condemn this decision of court.

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  • Lala Gee
    May 26, 2012 - 10:40PM

    @Fareeha:

    “Courts are busy in witch-hunting of PPP members. There hundreds of thousands Pakistanis that retain dual nationality …. I have a question do constitution envisage arbitrary disqualification of millions of Pakistanis that hold dual-nationality? I am sure not. Courts are running their own parallel government that is not bound to any law or constitution. We strongly condemn this decision of court.”

    Here is an excerpt from the Oath of Allegiance mandatory for all to become an American citizen. “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America…..”. As you can clearly see that the oath requires you to forgo your previous citizenship of Pakistan, or any other country, how a person who is no more a citizen of Pakistan can become a member of parliament. It is not the Supreme Court disqualifying a member but the member himself/herself forfeited the privilege of becoming a member parliament by renouncing Pakistani citizenship. The SC is just implementing the existing laws of Pakistan which prohibit even a dual nationality holder to contest in elections.

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  • Mirza
    May 26, 2012 - 11:10PM

    @khan:
    Khan Sahib, if you care to look at the numbers before sending wrong info that would be healthy for discussion. Here is a report showing that the money from the US is far more than from any country.
    Hopefully the charts and graphs on page 4 and figure 2 would give you an insight. Nothing personal just giving facts as I find them.
    Regards,
    Mirza

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2011/wp11200.pdf

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 27, 2012 - 7:20AM

    @khan:
    Michelle Bachman surrendered her Swiss nationality when it become known, whilst she was running for the nomination of the Republican Party.

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  • Sehr.Siddiqui
    May 27, 2012 - 10:47AM

    It is an excellent decision. Unfortunately we get obsessed by remittance and are carried away from the real issue. Where are the former Prime Ministers, Shoukat Aziz and Moin Qureshi. Where are Javed Burki and a host of former ministers? Does any one of them any inerest in Pakistan. The answer is that they are back to their mother country where they took an oath of allegiance. Still more unfortunate is the presence of Dual nationality holders in important government positions.These are the people who make wrong decisions, make money and resh back to mother country. Governor, State Bank, Auditor General of Pakistan, Deputy chairman Planning Commission, Chairman, SECP and the list goes on. These are the people who have the cake and eat it too. Long live hypocrisy.

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  • Lala Gee
    May 27, 2012 - 2:10PM

    @Mirza:

    “Khan Sahib, if you care to look at the numbers before sending wrong info that would be healthy for discussion. Here is a report showing that the money from the US is far more than from any country.
    Hopefully the charts and graphs on page 4 and figure 2 would give you an insight. Nothing personal just giving facts as I find them.”

    Here are the figures from page 7 of the document you referred to in your link.

    USA 22% + UK 8% + EU 3% = 33%
    UAE 22% + SA 20% + GCC 15% + Other 10% = 66%
    Source: IMF, State Bank of Pakistan

    Should have been better if you yourself provided these figures instead of trying to mislead the readers with your narrative.

    Nothing personal, just giving facts as they are.

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  • Nazia
    May 28, 2012 - 10:30PM

    By witch-hunting of PPP courts are doing a wonderful job. Wasting money and time on baseless issues. I am sure Farah Naz Ispahani will be hundred times more patriot than these so called judges, playing with the fate of nation by politicizing their job.
    How long this type of asinine moves will continue to weaken our political structure. Parliamentarians from several countries hold dual nationality, Pakistan is not only example. Can the Supreme Court move on to more pressing issues now. Property rights, contractual rights, human rights violations that have engulfed this nation. I get it: PPP is unlikable and an easy prey( through their own fault ), but judicial activism right now is not warranted. How about addressing the more than thousand backlog cases as recommended by the “National Judicial Policy Recommendations” in 2009.Recommend

  • Salman
    May 28, 2012 - 10:32PM

    It is ironic that after four years of their term in office and two elections under Gen Mush’s rule, “now” all of a sudden this purge is starting. The election commission is composed of judges and it is their job to scrutinize the candidates. The question should be addressed, is it legal to be a dual citizen and contest the elections? If it is then it is fine, if not then the election commission is responsible and the candidate should be rejected.
    How about the wives and kids having a foreign nationality and the husband do not, just to take part in Pakistani politics? Technically he is not a foreign citizen but can be any second as his wife and kids are! This would perpetuate the fraud and tricks with nationalities. Last but not the least; the NA/Senate should make the laws not the PCO SC. Why were these same judges not raising this question during the two elections (including this last) during Mush’s office? What has changed now?

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